Social Determinants of Health and Cardiologist Involvement in the Care of Adults Hospitalized for Heart Failure

Link to article at PubMed

medRxiv. 2023 Mar 24:2023.03.23.23287671. doi: 10.1101/2023.03.23.23287671. Preprint.


INTRODUCTION: The involvement of a cardiologist in the care of adults during a hospitalization for heart failure (HF) is associated with reduced rates of in-hospital mortality and hospital readmission. However, not all patients see a cardiologist when they are hospitalized for HF. Since reasons for this are not entirely clear, we sought to determine whether social determinants of health (SDOH) are associated with cardiologist involvement in the management of adults hospitalized for HF. We hypothesized that SDOH would be inversely associated with cardiologist involvement in the care of adults hospitalized for HF.

METHODS: We included adult participants from the national REasons for Geographic And Racial Difference in Stroke (REGARDS) cohort, who experienced an adjudicated hospitalization for HF between 2009 and 2017. We excluded participants who were hospitalized at institutions that lacked cardiology services (n=246). We examined nine candidate SDOH, which align with the Healthy People 2030 conceptual model: Black race, social isolation (0â€"1 visits from a family or friend in the past month), social network/caregiver availability (having someone to care for them if ill), educational attainment < high school, annual household income < $35,000, living in rural areas, living in a zip code with high poverty, living in a Health Professional Shortage Area, and residing in a state with poor public health infrastructure. The primary outcome was cardiologist involvement, a binary variable which was defined as involvement of a cardiologist as the primary responsible clinician or as a consultant, collected via chart review. We examined associations between each SDOH and cardiologist involvement using Poisson regression with robust standard errors. Candidate SDOH with statistically significant associations (p<0.10) were retained for multivariable analysis. Potential confounders/covariates for the multivariable analysis included age, race, sex, HF characteristics, comorbidities, and hospital characteristics.

RESULTS: We examined 876 participants hospitalized at 549 unique US hospitals. The median age was 77.5 years (IQR 71.0-83.7), 45.9% were female, 41.4% were Black, and 56.2% had low income. Low household income (<$35,000/year) was the only SDOH that had a statistically significant association with cardiologist involvement in a bivariate analysis (RR: 0.88 [95% CI: 0.82-0.95]). After adjusting for potential confounders, low income remained inversely associated (RR: 0.89 [95% CI: 0.82-0.97]).

CONCLUSIONS: Adults with low household income were 11% less likely to have a cardiologist involved in their care during a hospitalization for HF. This suggests that socioeconomic status may implicitly bias the care provided to patients hospitalized for HF.

PMID:36993687 | PMC:PMC10055565 | DOI:10.1101/2023.03.23.23287671

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